California Parents Sue State Over Lack of Home Nursing Care for Children With Disabilities

Law Firm Newswire



San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) October 19, 2018 – California families have brought a class action lawsuit against the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) alleging the state is failing to deliver adequate in-home nursing care for children with serious disabilities.

The parents of two children filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Northern California. They said their 5-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter have only received a fraction of the round-the-clock nursing services mandated by the government. According to the court documents, the children are unable to “move, turn, feed, dress, bathe or otherwise take care of themselves.”

“Each family faces unique challenges when addressing the care of their children who have disabilities. The state has a responsibility to identify children who are not getting the services they need and rectify the lack of nursing care,” said special needs planning attorney Michael Gilfix of Gilfix & La Poll Associates. Parents have a similar, supportive responsibility. “They must plan to protect their kids and ensure government benefits will be available to them,” added Gilfix.

“A valuable legal tool for parents of children with special needs is a special needs trust. Such trusts provide lifelong financial security without disrupting eligibility for government benefits like Medi-Cal.”

Around 4,000 children in California are eligible for in-home nursing care funded through Medi-Cal. However, the lawsuit alleged many of the children do not receive the services recommended by their doctors and approved by the DHCS. As a result, they are at risk of suffering injuries or becoming institutionalized. The DHCS oversees Medi-Cal.

According to the complaint, families end up having to “navigate a complex system with little to no support in obtaining necessary services for their children.” The plaintiffs are not seeking compensation. They are asking for the state of California to fulfill its legal duty to ensure children obtain the appropriate medical services for which they are eligible.

The problem is linked to a statewide nursing shortage amid growing demand, as well as low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates. The DHCS recently found that in-home nurses are only able to provide 71 percent of the hours required to care for children with disabilities.